Statement of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk at the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade, Session on the Multilateral Trading System

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk

Statement at the 2012 APEC Ministerial Meeting
Kazan, Russia
June 4, 2012

*As Prepared for Delivery*

“This morning I would like to focus on the opportunities in front of us, not the regrets.

“At the WTO Ministerial last December, we were honest that we have a problem; we identified a number of areas for near-term work; and we called for new thinking on how to address the issues that are most entrenched.

“Now, the question in front of us is – how do we operationalize our MC8 consensus? What is our positive agenda? Where can we agree to move work forward?

“To start, like other APEC economies, the United States is committed to the shared values of open markets and the rule of law, which are critical ingredients for fighting protectionism and maintaining a dynamic multilateral trading system as led by the WTO.

“We must remain vigilant in our fight against protectionism, since protectionism inhibits growth. APEC economies need to participate more fully in the WTO’s trade monitoring exercise. Transparency is key.

“In this vein, APEC economies can and should do their part to reinvigorate work in the standing WTO committees, which have taken a back seat in recent years. In fact they are on the frontline in our efforts to resist protectionist tendencies, and they can serve as the laboratories for considering how to address new issues in the WTO.

“Given the growing body of evidence on how trade operates in the 21st century, with global supply chains crisscrossing countries in various stages of development, trade barriers are increasingly detrimental.

“Better integration of supply chains on a global scale could lower the costs of trade at every step of the value chain, providing opportunities for increased competitiveness, and expanding consumers’ access to goods and services.

“The reality of our interconnectedness in fact is central to our interest in pursuing additional work on goods and services liberalization.

“This is why the United States feels as strongly as we do about the need to take the opportunity in front of us to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). It’s still an area where high tariffs are keeping some countries out of the global production chain.

“The reality of our interconnectedness also colors our interest in pursuing an international services agreement. Those Members exploring the concept have recognized the tremendous benefits that can be shared by expanding services market access and developing new, internationally agreed rules and standards. As we explore this idea, we are trying to deal with both new and longstanding issues, especially in key areas that fuel growth, including information communications technology services and global supply chains.

“Similarly, reducing trade costs and removing unnecessary delays facilitates better functioning of global value chains. Trade facilitation is an area with huge potential to integrate developing countries into global supply chains and attract investment and advance development. We hope to see APEC economies continuing their engagement to advance these negotiations.

“We need to keep pursuing work in the WTO on these and other areas where progress can be achieved. We view collaboration with our APEC colleagues as critical in this regard. Advancing negotiations on LDC accession guidelines is one example.

“In closing, the United States looks forward to working with our APEC partners as we advance negotiations at the WTO, and ultimately develop trade and other complementary policies that can help create employment and drive growth.”